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The initial timeline when planning a conference

Learn the initial timeline when planning a conference event in this step brought to you by Learning Lounge and FutureLearn.
A balance with a clock on one side and a ball of cash notes on the other.

Planning a conference requires many administrative skills. You need to be well organized, and able to look at the big picture as well as the little details. You should be able to communicate well with those who are on your team and still be able to function well in stressful situations. No matter what you are planning a timeline is always necessary.

This timeline should not only consist of a schedule for completing the project, but should identify important milestones, deadlines, and the resources needed along the way.

Be sure to allow plenty of time for all the tasks. Even simple things can become complicated when working with a new team, external stakeholders, tight deadlines, or from a distance.

There are many project management tools that can help you with the timeline. It doesn’t matter what you use, as long as you use something. You could just write it all down, use an Excel spreadsheet, a Gantt chart, or specialized project software.

As a coordinator of a conference, you will be responsible for many things. Make a note of the list below, it’s required in the next step.

  • Preparing an accurate budget
  • Scheduling tasks
  • Undertaking site visits
  • Negotiating venues
  • Organizing speakers
  • Organizing exhibitors
  • Preparing the program
  • Recruiting staff and volunteers
  • Managing any problems that arise
  • Managing expenditure
  • Organizing feedback
  • Ensuring the bills are paid
  • Developing registration forms
  • Developing promotional materials
  • Confirming room specifications
  • Providing supplies
  • Inviting and welcoming VIPs
  • Organizing the registration process

Work backward

A timeline can be determined most effectively if you have a firm date to work with.

Everything you do will need to work back from there. You cant promote the event until you have a venue and at least a partial list of confirmed speakers. You must promote the event with sufficient time for attendees to take time out of their schedule, register, and arrange travel (months in advance).

Unlike a report, which you could hand in one day late and just get a reprimand, there are no second chances with a conference.

Lead times are vital.

Once your timeline and team are in place, be sure to report back to the convenor of the conference to keep them up to date. This can help to ensure you are on track and that no requirements have been missed.

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Event Management for Conferences: the Basics

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